Sunday, 31 May 2009

Roland Garros Review of First Week

Let's start from the beginning. In Section 1, before Nadal lost, I think nobody would have expected him to lose. David Ferrer was possibly who we'd expect to be his most difficult opponent but he was beaten in the third round by Robin Soderling who had been doing OK since now. I did manage to predict all 4 of the third round players in Section 1 but I thought it would have been a Nadal Vs. Ferrer affair. Now that Ferrer was gone and Nadal had absolutely thrashed Hewitt I honestly didn't expect Soderling to do much, but how wrong was I. Soderling has possibly revitalized my interest in tennis this year and whether he wins or loses the next match doesn't matter to me as he's done something totally unexpected of him and he should be exceptionally proud of himself. Besides the loss of Nadal there weren't any huge upsets in this section, but of course Nadal losing is enough of an upset to fill the whole tournament!

I'd also managed to predict the four third round players in Section 2 but I was expecting Stanislas Wawrinka to get to the fourth round rather than Davydenko. Verdasco has been steadily going through the draw and I expect that Verdasco will be extremely happy to see the back of Nadal, no offence to Soderling but even if Nadal isn't playing well in the back of your mind you'll be expecting him to bounce back considering his awesome form on clay. However I was in doubt on whether Nadal would actually win! He seemed less dominant compared to his previous Roland Garros performances and the near loss to Djokovic and then the loss to Federer in his last clay court tournament was enough to put queries through my mind. Soderling kind of reminded me of Djokovic so if Djokovic had prepared himself better for Roland Garros I wouldn't be surprised if he lifted that title.

Section 3 was the first draw I didn't get right for the third round, I was expecting Montanes to be Murray's opponent but he sadly lost in the first round to Tipsarevic who went on to retire against Murray. Anyway Murray actually played really well against Marin Cilic who was on his back so many times, maybe Murray does have a chance to make it further (but I wouldn't put my money on him considering he's playing Gonzalez next).

Though I predicted Gonzalez winning in Section 4, I made quite a lot of wrong predictions along the way. Firstly I expected Kristof Vliegen to beat Rui Machado, then I predicted Granollers to beat Ouanna (who eventually beat Safin in a 5 set thriller which I was expecting Safin to win). I was also predicting Daniel Brands to beat Robert Kendrick. Then in the second round I thought Youzhny would be the dark horse of this section but he lost to Victor Hanescu and then Hanescu beat Simon (but actually I'd thought Youzhny would beat Simon). But Gonzalez did win in the end and an undisputed dark horse of this tournament, I'm just shocked he hasn't been mentioned as a possible favourite.

For Section 5 I managed 3/4, not expecting Tsonga to preform as well as he's done. Two of my favourites performed below par at Roland Garros. Tursunov lost in the first round in 4 sets and Juan Monaco lost in 4 sets in the second round. Del Potro is my pick for the quaterfinals but I honestly thought he would be playing Juan Monaco instead.

Now comes my worst section, Section 6! I only managed 1 out of 4 here. Maximo Gonzalez amazed me as I didn't even expect him to get through the first round. Seppi my pick for the third round lost to Maximo in straight sets. Then I had expect Ljubicic to be in the third roun but he lost in the first round in 5 sets. Of course the shock of this section was Djokovic losing in straight sets to Philipp Kohlschreiber. Djokovic was having a decent clay season whilst Kohlschreiber had never been past Round 2 of Roland Garros, so honestly I never expected a straight sets win by Kohlschreiber. I'm incredibly dissapointed as Djokovic hasn't made the semis of either Grand Slam so I guess it's now all eyes on the US Open as I doubt he'll win Wimbledon.

Yet again I managed 3/4 in Sevtion 7. Andreas Beck was my choice over Gicquel but Gicquel managed to squeeze through in 4 sets. Andy Roddick is actually playing exceptionally well on clay so I'm extremely happy for him.

Whilst for section 8 I got 3/4 again! Actually I didn't realize Blake went out in the 1st round until I looked at the draw just recently! I thought Haas was going to play Berdych but that didn't go to plan did it! I was praying that Mathieu beat Federer but sadly it wasn't to be - imagine Nadal, Federer and Djokovic all out before the 2nd week!

Overall I managed to predict 45/64 players for the 2nd round, quite a mediocre achievement actually! For the third round I predicted 13/16 for the Top Half (note, I got all 8 for the first quarter!). Whilst only 11/16 for the bottom half giving me a score of 24/32, average I must say! I also only managed 9/16 for the 4th round. Well enough anaylsis on the mens lets look at the womens.

I didn't actually predict the womens outcomes because I was so tired after trying to predict the mens draw. Anyway Dinara Safina has been fantastic as of now, though she hasn't played anyone challenging I'd say she's only lost 5 games out of 4 matches. I was really dissapointed that Anne lost 6-0,6-0 to her but I guess she had no chance of winning. All in all no shock that the favourite got to the quaterfinals.

In section 2 I predicted that Victoria Azarenka would make the quaterfinals, simply because Ana Ivanovic is not capable, at the moment, of achieving that feat, I believe. Since Nicole's loss of any form I think Victoria Azarenka has been my favourite teen player out of the likes of Radwanksa, Wozniacki and co. It's great to see that she's on top at the moment and it really reminds me of the teen rivalry between Ivanovic, Vaidisova etc etc a few years ago.

Venus losing in the third round wasn't a shock but it was a shock that she lost to Agnes Szavay 6-0,6-4. Agnes has just lost it in my opinion, I really don't see her coming back to her best tennis in the near future so I was quite shocked that Venus lost to her, it would have been more predictable if she lost to Safarova in my opinion. Dominika Cibulkova managed to see how easy her draw could potentially be and managed to fight through without playing any of the major players e.g. Venus, Amelie or even Anna-Lena Groenefeld. Personally I thought it was Amelie's chance to get through to the quaterfinals but I knew Anna-Lena Groenefeld would be her biggest challenge.

Section 4 was extremely predictable and at the moment the fourth round match is on TV. Petrova's loss to Sharapova was expected and Na Li making the fourth round was also expected for me, especially since Vera Zvonareva decided to quit the tournament. Besides those few names I have mentioned nobody else would have had a chance to break it to be honest (maybe Kaia Kanepi but I would have doubted it).

Section 5 posed a shock somewhat in that Sorana Cirstea managed to beat Caroline Wozniacki, a possible quaterfinalist I'd thought. Now I think Jelena has it in the bag (getting to the Quaters I mean). Jankovic hasn't played anyone exceptional or even worthy of making the quaterfinals as of yet and yet again I think she's got the easiest draw to the semifinals. If she doesn't make the semifinals I'd be gobsmacked.

Section 6 was probably the biggest shock of them all. I never expected Dementieva to lose to Samantha Stosur, I kind of expected Virginie Razzano to make the fourth round but I wouldn't have put any money on it. There were a slew of possibilities in this draw but Samantha Stosur making the 4th Round never crossed my mind and to be honest this section has set up an easy win for Jelena Jankovic in my opinion.
Just to mention it's quite interesting that Virginia Razzano's matches have gone (6-3,6-3) (6-2,6-2) and (5-7,5-7).

Section 7 sees possibly in my opinion the third favourite. Dinara I'd say is the biggest favourite with a large gap until Jelena Jankovic, then Svetlana Kuznetsova is in my opinion the next best player. She's been under the radar but I honestly expect her to make it to the semis. Hopefully Agnieszka Radwanska will pose a threat to Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Section 8 saw the demise of Flavia Pennetta. I was so sad when she lost to Alexa Glatch 6-1,6-1. Flavia could have possibly made it far but she blew it. Nicole also continued her awful form and she's slowly fading from my memory, it's awful to see such potential blown away. Anyway Serena and Aleksandra Wozniak are both predictable 4th round players.

Basically if Dinara manages to beat Victoria Azarenka I believe she'll be headed to the finals and unless Svetlana Kuznetsova can summon up something I don't think Dinara is going to lose this tournament.

I'm not a huge fan of watching doubles (and they are barely on TV anyway) so I'll have minima; to say on it. It was dissapointing however to see Jamie Murray lose and it's quite interesting to see so many pairs of players being from the same country as each other (but the seeded teams are less so). Anyway I hope the Bryan brothers all the best. Whilst for the women's we see the usual faces of Cara Black and Liezel Huber, I wonder who would win though. I've never been interested in the mixed doubles (even when Jamie Murray and Jelena Jankovic won) simply because it's way to unpredictable and I now very little about it. But what would have been interesting is if Bob Bryan and Lisa Raymond played Mike Bryan and Liezel Huber.

How many players have played in the Juniors and Seniors at the same time? Well lauren Embree did that but lost in both of them! Laura Robson being the No.1 seed is probably my main interest, hopefully when she turns pro she'll be at least a decent Top 10 player.

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